Press Release

Access to space today and tomorrow: what does Europe need?

By SpaceRef Editor
May 16, 2003
Filed under , ,
Access to space today and tomorrow: what does Europe need?

On 27 May the Ministers responsible for space activities in the Member States of the European Space Agency and Canada will meet in Paris, at ESA’s Head Office. They meet to take decisions on the restructuring of the Ariane launcher sector, to restore the competitiveness of Ariane 5 and to take further steps in the preparation of future launchers.

The Ministers should also rule upon unblocking a share of the exploitation programme of the International Space Station and should adopt a resolution on the relations between ESA and the European Union.

The first resolution proposed to Ministers for adoption deals with the immediate measures to be taken to put the Ariane 5 launcher system back on track.

It is widely recognised in Europe that access to space must be guaranteed and affordable and that Europe needs to maintain capabilities that support unrestricted use of space. The current situation of the global commercial launch services market, combined with the failure of the first launch of the new version of Ariane 5 (ECA) in December 2002, have had a detrimental effect on the economic outlook for the European launcher sector, in particular for Arianespace, which is responsible for procuring, commercialising and launching Ariane 5.

Such a situation has potential serious consequences for the sustainability of guaranteed and affordable access to space. It is for this reason that both Governments and industry are now being urged to take exceptional measures designed to sustain guaranteed access to space, stabilise the economics of Ariane 5 launcher production, improve the competitiveness of Ariane 5 and put it on an equal footing vis-a-vis its competitors.

A. Qualification of the Ariane 5 ECA launcher

In order to restore the competitiveness of the Ariane 5 launcher, the Resolution on the Restructuring of the Ariane launcher sector the Ministers are asked to adopt calls first of all for an agreement to proceed with the qualification of the Ariane 5 ECA version (lower composite powered by the Vulcain 2 engine and ESC-A upper stage powered by the flight proven HM-7 engine of Ariane 4), for a performance in GTO of 10 t, required for cost-efficient systematic dual launches. This recovery plan will be conducted according to the following schedule:

a- Consolidating the development of the new Vulcain 2 engine (which failed at the first launch attempt last December)

b- carrying out in March 2004 a dedicated qualification flight of an Ariane 5 ECA version

c- launching ESAís first ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) to the International Space Station by an Ariane 5 ES version (Lower composite powered by the Vulcain 2 engine and the flight proven EPS upper stage of todayís generic Ariane 5) in September 2004.

Arianespace has flight qualified Ariane 5 GS Generic launchers (lower composite powered by Vulcain 1 and EPS upper stage) for a performance of 6.8 t in GTO available to cover the launches up to beginning 2005. A new batch of Ariane 5 must be ordered soon to cover the launches as from beginning 2005, this batch being composed of ECA versions as well as GS versions in order to ensure continuity of launch service. A maximum of 72.5 MEURO out of the Ariane 5 Research and Technology Accompaniment (ARTA) programme -aiming at preserving the qualification status of Ariane 5- will contribute, together with industrial co-funding, to cover non-recurring costs associated with the resumption of GS launcher production.

Maximum amount (already available within the existing ARTA 5 programme allocations): 72.5 MEURO (another 37.5 MEURO to be contributed by industry).

(Note: The ARTA programme serves to maintain the reliability and level of qualification of Ariane 5 throughout its operational life, to eliminate design flaws and weaknesses appearing during operational use and to improve knowledge of the functional behaviour of th launcher in fight. It is currently funded for the period 2003-2006 at a level of 302.97 MEURO).

The consolidation of the Vulcain 2 engine will be carried out within the framework of the Ariane 5 Evolution and Ariane 5 Plus programmes which will contribute a maximum amount of 42.5 MEURO (already available within the existing programme allocations), complemented by industrial co-funding (37.5 MEURO).

The consolidation of the Ariane 5 ESC-A version is obtained through a contribution to relevant development costs to be borne by the Ariane 5 Plus programme.

Maximum amount (already available within the existing Ariane 5 Plus programme allocations): 60 MEURO.

(Note: The objective of the Ariane 5 Plus programme is that of making Ariane 5 evolve and keeping it competitive on the world market by increasing its performance and versatility and by bringing the launch price down. The programme includes in principle the development by 2006 of an Ariane 5 ECB version provided with a Vulcain 2 at the main stage and a new engine (the cryogenic restartable Vinci engine) at the upper stage, for a lift off capacity in GTO of 12t. In 2001, at the Edinburgh Council, the third step of the programme received an allocation of 699.14 MEURO. 315 MEURO (in 2003 e.c.) are blocked until a further decision is taken at the end of 2004 which might include the resumption of the Ariane 5 ECB activities. A resolution on the blocking of such activities was voted by the ESA Council on 25 April 2003).

A new Ariane 5 ECA in-flight demonstration programme will be carried out within the framework of an Additional Ariane 5 Slice 9 Programme declaration to cater for a dedicated qualification flight of an Ariane 5 ECA (Vulcain 2 + ESC-A) in March 2004 and the launch of ESAís first ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) to the International Space Station on board an Ariane 5 ESV version (Vulcain 2 + EPS Versatile) in September 2004 .

Allocation requested: 228 MEURO (at 2003 e.c.).

(Note: The cost of the first qualification flight of the ECA version is 185 MEURO (2003 e.c.) consisting of launch vehicle manufacturing (130 MEURO) and operations and other costs (55 MEURO). The cost to be borne by the ECA in-flight demonstration programme for the second flight of the Vulcain 2 engine is 41 MEURO, which is the difference between the launch service cost of an ESV version (170 MEURO) and the price paid by the Space Station Programme to Arianespace for the first ATV launch (129 MEURO in 2003 e.c.). Direct expenditures amount thus to 226 MEURO, 2 additional MEURO go into administrative support, site services, technical infrastructure and technical operations support).

B. Reorganisation of the Ariane launcher sector

In order to establish a strong link between production and development the reorganisation of the launcher sector -put in place already following a resolution adopted by Ministers at the last ESA Council at Ministerial level in Edinburgh in November 2001- has to be completed. This reorganisation goes hand in hand with the streamlining of the industrial production required to reduce the production cost of Ariane 5.

For this reasons the resolution envisages that Ministers decide that a single launcher system prime contractor shall be in charge with design, development and manufacture of Ariane 5 (EADS is slated to be the single industrial interlocutor for ESA (for development) and for Arianespace (for production)). The prime contractor will also be required to commit on production objectives (manufacturing costs and business plan). This new industrial organization shall already apply to the batch of Ariane 5 launchers (batch PA) to be ordered in June this year.

Arianespace, linked to ESA by a Convention, has been entrusted with the execution of the production phase and shall remain in charge of such activities, will be responsible via-a-vis the launch customers and will procure the launchers from the system Prime contractor committing to a business plan jointly developed with them (Arianespace will transfer their integration activities to EADS).

The organisation will be streamlined also on the public sector side and it is expected that Ministers will rule that ESA be in charge of launcher project management inviting the Director General of ESA ñ in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of expertise- to use under his authority the competences and workforce existing primarily in CNES under contract or arrangements to be concluded for this purpose. ESAís Director General should be also mandated to submit a proposal for a new organisation of launch operations at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou.

C. The European Guaranteed Access to Space (EGAS) programme

The downturn of the commercial market for the launch of satellites puts into question the continuation of the production phase of Ariane 5 which is dependent on the commercial market. Measures must be taken in order to secure the availability of this launcher for the European institutional missions to come.

The EGAS programme aims at guaranteeing with Ariane 5 an access to space to European user institutions for the launch of their missions and at maximising the institutional use of this access to space by offering the best market prices and launch priority to European institutions.

Through the EGAS Ariane programme, to be in force for the period 2005-2009 and intended to cover selected fixed cost activities (associated with the production of a batch of Ariane 5 to be ordered in 2003), European industry and Arianespace can be placed on a level playing field with international competitors.

The financial envelope for the EGAS programme for the period 2004-2009 is set at 960 MEURO (2003 e.c.). Member Sates interested in participating will be invited to draw up a Declaration by 30 September and to subscribe to it by 31 December 2003.

2. Horizon 2010 for the European launcher sector: the Future Launchers preparatory programme and Soyuz in Kourou

The second resolution tabled for decision at the meeting on 27 May stresses that the restructuring of the Ariane launcher sector must go hand in hand with a perspective at horizon 2010 that also takes into account the enhancement of the competitiveness of the European launcher sector.

This can be achieved by strengthening the launcher R&D base in Europe through the development of technical capabilities and by widening the range of launch services offered by Arianespace starting with the exploitation of the Vega launcher and Soyuz launcher at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou.

A. Future launchers preparatory programme

Since the European Ariane 5 and Vega launchers -and possibly their evolved versions- will be exploited up to 2020, there is no need to start development of a new launcher now. However, the growing technology gap between Europe and other space-faring nations in the area of future launcher technologies, in particular on reusable launcher technologies, as well as the harsh consequences of the temporary suspension of the Ariane 5 ECB development on engineering teams within the European launcher industry, call for starting without delay the Future Launcher Preparatory Programme (FLPP). Indeed, preparatory activities will be a key to Europeís success in the medium and long-term by developing relevant technological and industrial capabilities and by developing international cooperation with Russia, which may be generalised world-wide.

The aim of the FLPP is to develop and structure within a single programmatic framework at European level the industrial capabilities needed to take a decision by the end of the decade on the Next Generation Launcher (NGL) system concept (fully reusable, partly reusable or expendable) for operational exploitation around 2020 and to demonstrate innovative technologies aiming at improving the competitiveness of current expendable launchers.

The programme is structured in successive overlapping periods:
2004-2006: Selection by mid-2006 of one Reusable Launch Vehicle system concept for each of two NGL reference missions and the pre-development of experimental vehicle(s). Decision in 2005 to complete the development of the selected experimental vehicles.

2006-2009: Validation of NGL technologies through ground demonstrations and, for reusable launcher technologies, in flight experimentation. Preliminary mission selection and competing NGL Phase A studies of reusable and expendable system concepts.

2009-2011: Confirmation of NGL mission requirements and final recommendation of one NGL system concept. Engine tests and mission requirements finalised.

This should lead to a decision around 2013 on whether to develop (or not) the next Generation Launcher on the basis of a complete binding industrial offer.

International cooperation with Russia on LOX/hydocarbon (Liquid Oxygen/ methane or kerosene) engines is envisaged already from the outset of the programme.

The financial envelope for the first phase of the FLPP (2003-2005) amounts to 145 MEURO (2003 e.c.). The Declaration setting out the undertakings in respect of the content of the programme for Phase 1 is to be drawn up by 30 September 2003 and subscribed to within 31 December 2003.

B. Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre

In June 2002 the ESA Council meeting in St. Hubert (Canada) confirmed the interest of co-operating with Russia in the field of launchers on two pillars: (a) cooperation without exchange of funds on future launcher preparation and (b) the exploitation of the Russian launcher Soyuz by Arianespace from the CSG in Kourou.

The exploitation of Soyuz would complement the offer of Ariane 5 and Vega in the medium-weight payload class for low earth orbit and would, for GTO missions, provide Arianespace with increased mission flexibility and optimise the commercial exploitation of Ariane 5.

The construction of the Soyuz Launch Complex, located some 10 km North of the existing Ariane 5 launch facilities, would last 2,5 years and enable the start of the exploitation by Arianespace in 2006. The ESA Director General has tabled a programme proposal encompassing the development, construction and exploitation of the necessary facilities and means of exploitation of Soyuz at the GSG, including the provision for its further upgrading to the manned flight.

ESA Member States are invited to cover initially 256.8 MEURO (2003 e.c.). In terms of payments, Arianespace would reimburse some 120 MEUROS – covering at least the costs of Russian deliveries- out of the profits of the exploitation of Soyuz. The remainder would be paid by participating States as from 2006.

The Programme Declaration- the legal instrument that freezes the commitment of the member states to the programme- is to be drawn up by 30 September 2003 and is to be subscribed by 31 Decenber 2003.

3. The International Space Station: the way ahead

In early 2001 the US was anticipating a significant cost increase in its portion of the ISS programme and initiated a reassessment with potential repercussions for the ISS Partners. As a consequence of this new situation at that time, the ESA Ministers who met in Edinburgh in November 2001 approved the funding for Period 1 (2002-2006) of the ISS Exploitation Programme (863.9 MEURO at 1998 e.c.) but decided, however, to block an amount of 296 MEURO (at 1998 e.c.) of the 2002-2004 sub-envelope corresponding to about 60% of these activities, pending clarification of the overall ISS situation.

(Note: ISS Exploitation Period 1, subenvelope 2002-2004, covers activities related to ATV procurement activities, including the first ATV production unit; procurement of Ariane 5 for ATV; sustaining engineering for flight and ground elements; Columbus operations preparation and initial operations; preparation and execution of the first ATV mission; astronaut activities; utilisation coordination and support; and ESA programme integration.

Period 1 of ISS Exploitation is composed of fixed and variable cost activities to be undertaken in the period 2002-2006. The Period 1 financial envelope amounts to 863.9 MEURO at 1998 e.c. and is divided into a firm sub-envelope of 518.2 MEURO for 2002-2004 and a provisional sub-envelope of 345.7 MEURO for 2005-2006).

Since 2001, NASA has seen significant internal organisational changes and has substantially consolidated its part of the ISS programme. Due to this, as well as to intensive work performed by all international partners, in December 2002 stability in the ISS programme was regained by agreeing in principle on a ISS configuration which best meets the utilisation and resource requirements of the Partners (approval of that ISS configuration and conclusion of corresponding formal agreements is expected for the end of 2003). Such configuration would allow for a level of European utilization of the ISS as originally intended: full use in particular of ESAís Columbus laboratory for research and application purposes and the use of Ariane 5/Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) as a key logistic element during the exploitation phase.

The agreed scenario foresees a rescue capability for a six person crew using two Russian Soyuz capsules docked to the ISS from 2006/2007 onwards and for a crew of at least seven through a combination of a newly developed NASA Orbital Space Plane (currently planned to be available in 2010) and one Soyuz capsule docked to the ISS. This scenario also caters for accommodation and life support capabilities corresponding to the crew size and a transport fleet for the necessary upload and download logistics based on a combination of ESAís ATV, Japanís HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle), Russian Progress and US Shuttle.

Following these achievements in ISS programme consolidation, the unblocking of the ISS Exploitation Programme funds is proposed to take place in a phased approach: in a first step an amount of 124.1 MEUROS (1998 e.c.) is to be unblocked at the Council at Ministerial level, covering time-critical activities mainly related to the availability of the ATV (which also helps mitigate the impact of a reduced Shuttle fleet after the Columbia accident of February this year) and the European ISS ground segment (including ATV control centre and user support facilities). This amount also covers operation preparation activities including crew operations and astronaut training activities.

The second step concerns the unblocking of the remaining funds (171.9 MEUROS at 1998 e.c.), covering the procurement of Ariane 5 for the 3rd ATV (scheduled for launch in 2006/7) and the ESA programme integration costs for 2004. Unblocking of these funds will be decided upon before the end of 2003.

4. Relations with the European Union

ESA and the EU have tightened their relations since 1998. In June of that year the ESA Council adopted a resolution that laid the grounds for reinforcing the synergy between ESA and the European Community; a similar resolution was adopted at the same time by the Council of the EU. In May 1999 the ESA Council at Ministerial level in Brussels again took a step forward in strengthening the relations with the EU, and, in parallel, the EU Council adopted in December 1999 a Resolution on Developing a Coherent European Space Strategy.

The European Strategy for Space was prepared jointly by the ESA Executive and the Commission during the year 2000. In November 2000, in Brussels, both the ESA Council at Ministerial level and the Council of the EU adopted a Resolution welcoming this European Strategy for Space and calling for steps to jointly develop further the Strategy. A Joint Task Force bringing together representatives of the Executive and of the Commission Directorates concerned with space was created in January 2001 and several thematic working groups were also created, addressing the key topics and concerns outlined in the Strategy. In November 2001, the ESA Council at Ministerial level again welcomed the work of this Joint Task Force and emphasised the importance of the relationship between ESA and the Union in a Resolution called ìSpace serving European citizensî.

The grounds for enhanced co-operation between the EU and ESA takes into account their distinct missions and institutional basis, with the aim of increasing the resources devoted in Europe to space related activities and efficiency in managing these resources. Space is recognised by all players as being a critical tool- through its applications- in the European Unionís major policies such as transport, environment, information society and security.

The future Constitutional Treaty of the European Union, currently drafted by the Convention and to be discussed during 2004 at the next Intergovernmental Conference, will probably attribute space competences to the European Union. For this reason the institutional relations between the European Union and the European Space Agency will have to be arranged through a Framework Agreement. The ESA Ministerial Council has been called to contribute to orienting any decision that might be taken in the coming months and that could strongly affect the future of space in Europe.

(Note: The Framework Agreement between ESA and the European Community is intended to be the instrument to allow the two organisations to permanently work together. The agreement takes into account, inter alia, the complementary competences of the two organisations and the respective roles of the parties and must be seen as a step towards the progressive development of a space policy in an integrated European perspective).

The Ministers are asked to adopt a resolution that invites the Member States and the Director General of ESA to ensure that the possible inclusion of space related matters in the renewed competences of the European Union would contribute to enhanced co-operation among the European states in space research, technology and their applications in the widest possible sense, taking full benefit of the broad competence and recognised effectiveness of ESA in defining and implementing Europeís involvement in space, in coordination with national centres and agencies.

For further information, please contact :

ESA Media Relations Service

Tel: +33(0)

Fax: +33(0)

SpaceRef staff editor.